Cornered by Turkey's counterterror operations, the PKK terror group is forcefully recruiting children, but mothers are increasingly taking a stand.

Desperate mothers, seeking the return of their children, are camped outside the provincial office of the Peoples' Democratic Party in southern Diyarbakir province.
Desperate mothers, seeking the return of their children, are camped outside the provincial office of the Peoples' Democratic Party in southern Diyarbakir province. (AA)

A mother on Tuesday launched a sit-in protest in front of the provincial office of HDP in Diyarbakir, accusing it of kidnapping her underage son into the PKK terror group.

Fevziye Cetinkaya said her 17-year-old son frequently went to the local HDP office, and vowed never to stop her protest until he was returned.

Cetinkaya’s protest follows closely on the heels of a protest by Hacire Akar, who launched a similar sit-in on August 22 in HDP’s office in Diyarbakir.

Akar's protest ended up in success as her son, Mehmet, was brought just two days later. Her determination has become a source of inspiration for others.

'Shedding blood of your kin is sin'

In June 2018, a mother of a 17-year-old boy who left Turkey in 2018 to join the ranks of YPG/PKK terrorists in northern Syria called on her son to surrender to security forces.

"Take shelter in the state, it doesn’t harm anyone," said the mother, identified as Aysegul B.

"Shedding the blood of your kin is sin, don't you know? [Turkish] soldiers are our own," she said and later joined Cetinkaya's protest for help.

Mufide Ergormus, a mother of six, is among those threatened by the PKK as she took a stand against the terrorist group’s forced recruitment.

When she asked her son why he skipped school, he said the PKK forced him to take part in riots.

The mother, confronting the terror group to take back her son, was threatened.

"I just want to save my children, I can't go anywhere without the fear of losing my children. Everyone should hear my voice," she told reporters.

Anti-PKK demonstrations

Back in September 2015, the citizens of Diyarbakir got fed up with the terror group's indiscriminate attacks on civilians and child recruitment.

Beginning with a group of nine mothers, more people joined the demonstration against the terror group. Meanwhile, people in Mardin hoisted their Turkish flags and started to chant "enough" in anti-PKK demonstrations.

This February, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed the HDP administration’s substantial ties with the PKK terror group.

"The HDP is equal to the PKK," he said during a televised interview on February 3, adding that even the party administration has not denied this claim.

On August 19, three HDP mayors ⁠— operating in the cities of Diyarbakir, Van and Mardin ⁠— were dismissed by the Interior Ministry for supporting terrorism. They were accused of using state funds and local administration in favour of the terror group.

Desperate against Turkey’s anti-terror campaign, the PKK started to recruit underage boys and girls, security sources told Anadolu Agency late 2018. 

The PKK, then, had a total of 679 "child terrorists" under its control.

Back in 2014, the terror group recruited over 300 children, but thanks to the Turkish state’s successful anti-terror campaign, this figure dropped to 47 by 2019.

The PKK terror group has waged a terror campaign against Turkey since August 15, 1984, when it organised its first act of terrorism in the southeastern Siirt province.

However, the technological development of the Turkish army and countless operations have inflicted a heavy blow on the PKK in recent years, as thousands of its members were killed by air strikes, or ground operations.

Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu announced in July that there were only 600 PKK terrorists roaming mountains in eastern Turkey and upcoming operations would further eradicate the terror group.

Apart from the military methods, Turkish security officials also use the persuasion method in which members of the terror group are convinced to lay down their weapons and yield to security forces.

A total of 408 PKK terrorists have yielded since 2017 according to the Interior Ministry's database. These former terrorists are provided with much better living standards and are fully protected by the Turkish state.

UN report on child recruitment by PKK

The YPG/PKK terrorist group has recruited 313 children and used schools for military purposes in Syria, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a report to the UN Security Council.

According to the annual Children in Armed Conflict report published in June, nearly 40 percent of children recruited by the terrorist group were girls, 20 of them being under 15 years old.

The report found that these children had received military training and that 119 girls have fought in battles.

The UN report unveiled that the YPG/PKK terrorist group used 24 schools and hospitals as training grounds and 14 schools as ammunition depots in Syria.

The annual UN report was produced at the request of the UN Security Council.

In 1977 the Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions prohibits the military recruitment and use of children under age 15.

"Children who have not attained the age of fifteen years shall neither be recruited in the armed forces or groups nor allowed to take part in hostilities," says the 1977 Additional Protocol II.

Source: AA